Will electric cars in the near future offer greater autonomy than petrol-powered thermal cars (not to mention diesel)? While most are still far away, Tesla continues to evolve its vehicles towards an ever-increasing range.
For this, the American manufacturer always seems to focus its efforts on its flagship, the Model S, and more precisely on the Model S 100D version "Long Range", already very well and very simply named.
While the latter already offered an exceptional value of 610 kilometers in range in its current version, the Californian firm has just announced yet another iteration of this model bringing the autonomy to 402 miles according to the EPA standard (the most demanding and realistic) , or… 647 kilometers.
Exceptional value, on paper anyway, that many gasoline cars don't reach. To achieve such a result, Tesla worked on several parameters.
Four parameters modified to improve autonomy
First, a reduction in weight. When it comes to cars, and autonomy, weight is the enemy of efficiency and performance. Tesla was inspired by the evolutions made during the design of the Model 3 and Model Y to transpose them into the Model S and X. This allowed to discover new areas of mass reduction while maintaining the sensation and the performance of the two vehicles. Additional weight savings have also been achieved through the standardization of in-house manufacturing of Tesla seats and the use of lighter materials in our batteries and drive units.
Tesla then designed new wheels. Wheels are an essential component of a car’s aerodynamics. New 8.5-inch-wide “Tempest” aerodynamic wheels reduce aerodynamic drag compared to previous wheels in the current model. When combined with a new custom tire specially designed to reduce rolling resistance, they improve overall reach by 2%.
The rear drive unit has also been revised, replacing the mechanical oil pump with an electric oil pump that optimizes lubrication regardless of vehicle speed to reduce friction. Other improvements to the front synchronous motor gearbox, shared with the Model 3 and Y, have increased highway driving range by another 2%.
Finally, Tesla worked on regenerative braking. The final drive function, HOLD, combines regenerative braking with the physical brake to stop cars by releasing the accelerator pedal. To stop the car smoothly, regenerative braking now operates at a lower speed and deceleration rate, returning more energy to the battery while providing an improved driving experience.
According to Tesla, "This important development reflects Tesla's obsession with energy efficiency and frugality, and is achieved through several changes, both iterative and transformational, in the development of basic hardware and system architecture by teams Tesla Engineering, Design and Production. These changes went into production earlier this year when we started manufacturing Model S Long Range Plus at our factory in Fremont, California. All Model S Long Range Plus vehicles will receive the new standard of 647 km of range. "
Remember, however, that the autonomy figures announced – whatever the brand – are obtained under "optimal" conditions which are difficult to reproduce in real life with European use, often more dynamic. That said, the remark is also valid for thermal cars, whose advertised consumption is rarely checked in daily use. But even if we withdraw 20% of the figure indicated by Tesla to approach the reality of driving at a pace compatible with our habits, and especially on the highway, the fact remains that the Tesla Model S Long Autonomy Plus will able to travel almost 520 kilometers on a single charge, a Paris-Lyon, with another 70 km remaining at the finish…